NEW YORK—The Wallflowers’ Jakob Dylan and Rami Jaffee are playing the first music they’ve written together in seven years, songs from their new album, “Glad All Over.”
Along with drummer Jack Irons of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, they’re getting ready to go on the road, and are clearly enjoying their reunion.
Dylan said, “It’s the beginning of the next beginning, of the other end of the first beginning. We don’t really conceptualize how far it needs to go or how far it wants to go, I think we just take it one step at a time and here we are again.”
But to understand their true beginnings, you have to go back two decades. In the late ‘80s, they created a following that began on an unusual stage—Canter’s Deli—a Los Angeles landmark known for serving up rock-and-rye in its kibitz room.
Dylan recalled, “It was great. The beer was like, a dollar fifty, which people liked that a lot. We were young, we were hungry.”
Mark Canter, of Canter’s Deli, said, “Nothing was organized, songs would fall apart halfway through because nobody knew how they ended. It wasn’t rehearsed at all, and they were just winging it.”
But the crowds grew, from 30 to 300 in just a couple of weeks, launching The Wallflowers on a wild ride. There were the hit singles, “One Headlight” and “6th Avenue Heartache,” a pair of Grammys, and sales of 7 million albums. Their latest single, “Reboot the Mission,” is a tribute to the British punk band The Clash, and its lead singer, Mick Jones.
Asked if the band picked up where they left off musically, Dylan said, “No, even better actually. We left a little burnt out. We left a little confused I think. So we came back pretty fired up. Better energy than we’ve had in years.”
They’re rebooting the band at a time when the music business seems to be changing by the minute, due to the internet—a fast way to connect with fans, but crowded with instant hits like videos from Korean rapper Psy, one of which has toppped 400 million views on YouTube.
Watch a feature on the Korean rapper in the video below.
Dylan said, referring to the video, “I don’t know who that is, but whatever he’s doing is a fluke. Now you’re gonna have legions of people who are gonna try to emulate that and they’re gonna fail. But anything anybody like me says about that stuff sound like sour grapes, that’s how kids find their music, that’s how people receive it. I don’t want to hear one more guy talk about how it was better before.”
Still, Dylan admits he’s old school when it comes to songwriting. Nearly all of The Wallflowers’ hits were written on his vintage guitar that he bought when he was 17 years old.
Dylan said, “Guitars have life to them. All instruments have life to them. You can buy a $60,000 guitar that’s dead inside, it has no stories. These are storytellers and they write things.”
Some might argue that storytelling also runs in the family. His father Bob Dylan is still recording and touring at the age of 71.
Asked about his father’s impression of The Wallflowers getting back together, Dylan said, “Not right now but when I stopped he was curious why we were stopping. He thought we had a really good thing going on, and why would you stop, which I guess he was right, cause we ended up getting back together.”
Jaffe said, “What we have now is a certain wisdom that’s what happens when you get older. But it’s true. Now we’re in it for better reasons than even when we were teenagers.”
The youthful exuberance and experience of age might just strike the perfect chord with fans.